Rajel Ramjag Professor Wood English 100 04 November 2018 Understanding The Language “Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan is based on the difficulties she faced with English

Rajel Ramjag
Professor Wood
English 100
04 November 2018
Understanding The Language
“Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan is based on the difficulties she faced with English; her mother’s “broken” or “fractured” alternatives of the language and the relationship with her mother. At the start of the essay Tan’s English differs to the way she speaks to her mother and with other individuals. English was not Tan’s strongest subject based on how she explained in the essay. Tan used her interactions with her mother as well as the difficulties her mother faced with speaking English.
In the essay Tan uses a variety of allegorical devices to express herself, Tans use of harmonized structures is used frequently throughout her work; for instance, Tan begins the first paragraph by stating the phrase “I am not a scholar of english” and then the second with “I am a writer”; this differentiation shows the reader that English is not a language that has to be fully understood in order to become a writer. Tan even uses personification in the second paragraph when she says “language is the tool of my trade”. This statement implies that, Tans usage of the language within the essay is her way of expressing who she is and getting her point across. Tan went further on saying “and I use them all…all the englishes I grew up with” this shows that Tan is proud of her upbringing because it paved her way for writing; and in the following paragraph Tan says “recently, I was made keenly aware of the different englishes I do use” this proves she’s aware of the criticism that she may receive but Tan is willing to go with it regardless because it is the backbone of everything that she knows.
Tan usage of repetition in this instance to emphasize how, in her opinion, there is no right way or one way of speaking english there are different variations, in this instance the English with her mother is very different from how she speaks english to her teachers or classmates, this can refer back to the title of the text “mother tongue”. Mother tongue is usually referred to the first language a person is taught, however I think Tans usage of the word -mother tongue- is rather more familiar in which that she feels her “english” or “mother tongue” is distinctive to her, and that the variation of english she speaks to her mother is her mother tongue. However Tan also creates repetition when she uses the words “broken”, “fractured” and “limited” as it is written numerous times throughout the essay. Those words implies the perception people might have of her mother’s english, but on the contrary, when Tans uses the phrase “impeccable broken english” it’s really strange how it pulls the reader’s attention, to say something is impeccable and yet the perception of something being broken.
This phrase may imply that although Tans mothers english might be “limited”, but in her opinion it does not strike her as being wrong as so many would think; she clearly states this when she says “Some say they understand none of it, as if she were speaking pure Chinese. But to me, my mother’s English is perfectly clear, perfectly natural”. Moreover She uses personification again to emphasize the variation of English she speaks when she says “the intersection of memory upon imagination”. Towards the fifth paragraph Tan uses many anecdotes or personal experiences to give the audience a bit more of an insight with the troubles she faced when she was younger with her mother and the prejudice she faced. Furthermore Tan’s use of dialogue throughout the text lets the audience experience her mother tongue.
I think that the main purpose of this article is to show people that there is no right type of english, and that english comes in many forms therefore there should be no prejudice. She shows this by putting emphasis on the word “English” and “Englishes” throughout the text. Tan implies that many people have very narrow minded and misconceived views of people from a different culture or language background, she uses the example of her personal experience and mother to show this, for example people would take her mother seriously due to her “broken” english, as it suggests that her mother might be uneducated. However Tan also mentions how her mother “reads the Forbes report, listens to Wall Street Week, converses daily with her stockbroker and reads all of Shirley MacLaine books with ease- all kind of things I can’t begin to understand”, most of the audience might be quite surprised with this, as it seems very unusual for a women from China and who has “watered-down” english to understand things of such complexity. This in itself proves Tans point of society’s misconception and generalisation of people with different language backgrounds.
In this essay I realized that Tan used a few simple and easy to read English from her mother’s story to show the readers how English is situated, however at the same time we are able to understand the complexity of her argument overall. In the final paragraph Tan evokes on how concerned she is about her audience satisfaction moreover the acceptance of critics. Tan does not need to write like a professor to get her point across. Because throughout the essay, Tan created a trend of adding her personal experiences and expanding on them to form her writing.

Works Cited
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